The truth?

Our Thanksgiving was ok.

kids decorating tree

Yes, that’s it. Just ok.

We had our roast beef and everyone ate. We had a lovely meal and, as planned, we didn’t spend time urging bites. Eating together was, as predicted, quite lovely. We had lovely pre-dinner moments, curled up on the couch watching the parade. Baking with my girl in the quiet moments of the afternoon and witnessing the her excitement as we unwrapped ornaments to hang on our tree. “Look at this one! And this one! And this!” She remembers, now, how each ornament has some significance. Many of them come from far away places that we’ve visited. Many arrived before she did. Some new ones were gifts, added to our collection by relatives who love, as I do, the sweetness of gifting ornaments each year. She remembers some of the stories. She dives into the box just as I used to, delighted to rediscover memories and turn delicate figures over in her hands.

girl decorating tree

But the rest of the day? There were tantrums. And there was whining. There were tempers flaring and adults tossing up hands, feeling pushed to the limits of patience and calm. There were siblings arguing and children demanding time. There was even, I’m embarrassed to admit, an early morning trip to the store because our tree lights were half burnt out. There was the realization that the holiday I had planned in my head, relaxing and memorable and sweet, wasn’t exactly coming true. We didn’t list things we were thankful for. We gave it a cursory chat over dinner. We decorated the tree but at least one time-out (and a whole lot of yelling and screaming) happened concurrently and when all was said and done, M looked at me and said something to the affect of: “Well that’s a lovely tradition.” with quite a bit of sarcasm and all I could do was sigh and nod in agreement.

Typically this is where I’d talk about two. He was feeling particularly two that day. The tantrums and the screaming. A peak in development clashes with yet another holiday. Of course, if I were to really believe that then I’d have to start questioning why development peaks so often clash with holidays. This isn’t the first time in my young children’s lives that a holiday has not risen to the standards I dreamed it would but, instead, has devolved into exploding emotions and frayed nerves.

boy decorating tree

There’s danger in the build up. Not for them, so much, as for me.

I build it up. I design it all in my head. What we’ll do, yes, but more what we’ll feel. How it will be. How it will look. I ignore the trappings of reality, the reality that while she is five and capable and ready for all my memory-creatin heart has to offer, he is still two. He thinks he is ready but then he yanks an ornament out of her hands and hurls it at the ground and suddenly we’re dividing and conquering to dry tears and shuttle him to a time-out and trying to salvage what’s left of the morning and the memory I had pre-packaged in my head. In the end every ornament has made it on the tree and I didn’t see half of them get there and they are all not so coincidentally grouped on the lower third of the branches.

I wanted to just be with them. That’s all I really wanted from the day. But I got caught up in the things I wanted to do with them. And that, with small children anyway, is always where it all falls apart.

The truth?

The rest of our weekend was lovely.

Yes, so lovely. Kids played in pajamas well into the afternoon. I read more than I have in such a long time. We watched holiday movies and danced to Christmas music all weekend long. We spent Black Friday morning at the museum and rung in the season with an early Nutcracker viewing. We enjoyed a healthy three-day weekend of afternoon tea time, where M makes himself some chai and little hands take turns dipping tea biscuits into it. Memory-creatin without the pressure. Just being. Not so much worried about the doing.

And now, here we are, the holiday season in full swing. And I’m no longer pre-packaging the memories. I’m just making them.


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